The SpongeBob SquarePants Experience: A Deep Dive into the World of Bikini Bottom is a book published by Insight Editions and authored by the animation historian Jerry Beck. It is an unofficial history of how the SpongeBob SquarePants series came to be using interviews and images.
None of the show's crew members were directly involved with writing the book, and reviews from Publishers Weekly called attention to numerous inaccuracies in Jerry Beck's descriptions. It uses fan-made character information (such as Fred's last name being "Rechid") and uses a piece of DeviantArt fanart for Barnacle Boy's image.
This lavish coffee table book delivers an eye-opening behind-the-scenes look at the creation of SpongeBob and all the hard work and creativity that has gone into making him one of the most popular cartoon characters of all time. Featuring in-depth interviews with the cast and crew who bring Bikini Bottom to life, The SpongeBob SquarePants Experience will also include a treasure trove of SpongeBob concept artwork and other rare and revelatory visuals that will make it an absolute delight for fans.
Delving into the creation of each of the beloved characters like never before and featuring early sketches, concepts, and other material that sheds new light on the creative vision behind SpongeBob, this is the ultimate book on a true icon of animation.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Experience also presents a wealth of fun inserts, pullouts, and other surprises, creating a truly interactive experience that takes fans into SpongeBob's world like never before.
The book received praise for its inclusion of behind-the-scenes artwork, but was criticized for inaccuracies and sourcing from the user-editable sites Wikipedia and IMDb. Publisher Judith Rosen said, "It's a visually-appealing novelty item, with art almost falling off the pages ... [But] any long-time fans hoping for something more will be disappointed, and it's hard not to notice that there are sections of content paraphrased directly from the characters' Wikipedia articles." The reviewer also pointed out how "Beck interrupts a quote from Tom Kenny with a reference to the credits off IMDB."
As an unofficial history written by Jerry Beck instead of any Nickelodeon employee, there are numerous errors:
Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy's page uses this fanart by DeviantArt user EnterPraiz for Barnacle Boy's image. EnterPraiz did not release his fanart under Creative Commons, so it seems Jerry Beck took the fanart without permission and without checking to see its license.
Barnacle Boy's arm on the fanart is even obviously airbrushed to remove the other side of it, where EnterPraiz put Mermaid Man and his artist signature.
Mermaid Man's image is also unofficial fanart. It is this fan-traced SVG file made by the wiki users FrostyLemon and Airhogs777.
The book uses unofficial fan-made information about the characters, culled directly from fansites, such as Fred having the last name "Rechid." This name was only ever applied to a completely different character (Nurse Rechid), and the book's use of "Fred Rechid" as a name is one of many inaccurate things taken from fan wikis for the book.
Stephen Hillenburg is called a "former biologist," when he was actually a teacher of marine science, not a scientist.
SpongeBob's Brazilian Portuguese name is listed as "Bob Esponja, Calça Quadrada," as if they were two different names. However, it is his first and last names, so there should be no comma.
Almost every background or character painting in the book looks unfinished, with many of them lacking their outlines and looking dissimilar to their final appearances in the episodes. This is because Beck only used the bottom layers of the Photoshop files, without obtaining the final artwork.